Submitted by Jeff Buster on Mon, 11/26/2007 - 15:40.

I spent time today cutting up an old dog house - for firewood. 


And as I was doing this mundane chop chop, I had time to think about how the dog house came to be under my Skil saw. 


 Here’s the story:


New England couple get married, get a dog, Mr. builds a dog house, Mr. and Mrs. have two boys, then they get divorced.   Most marriages end in divorce.  Nothing un-usual here.


Mom gets the house, with the dog, the dog house, and the two boys. 


Two decades go bye.


 Dog has made maximum impression on the boys, but dogs don’t live as long as we do. 




The boys really remember their dog. Well, they aren’t really “boys” anymore, they are college guys and new professionals.  But I can tell they are feeling in their chests what’s going on - I am carrying furniture while they move out of their house.  


This was last summer in late August.   


Mom had  kept the situation together for years.  Since divorce is a fiscal disaster, both parents had to work their asses off to keep up the mortgage payments and the heat on.  The house was kept going for years – 20 years-  so the boys  could have consistency at their grade school, at their middle school, at their high school, and at college.


And I think that the boys subliminally recognized that (both) their parents are supportive.  Even if their parents can’t get along with each other, both parents are pushing for the boys' self confidence and success.  But parents are awkward and often come across misunderstood. 


The boys become outstanding scholars and high school class presidents.  Outgoing and accomplished  in college. And with graduation, one heads to Australia the other to Canada. 


Now no one is connected to the house.   Not mom, not the boys.  And the dog is gone.



The House had been sold a few months prior, with the agreement that everything would be removed by the seller off the property.   There was $5,000  held in escrow by the buyer to ensure that the property would be transferred to the new owners clear of everything.  This is reasonable.


However everything included things that the boys, and their mom, had not been able see for years.  The old dog house included.


We put the empty dog house on their rural street corner with a “FREE” sign on it.  All afternoon no one stopped to take it.


So late in the afternoon, as I pull out of the driveway with the big Penske truck with all the remaining items which belonged to the family in it,  I stop at the corner,  set  the brake, and get out to help one of the boys pick up the dog house and shove it in the back of the moving truck.


I knew that this was a moment that hurt.  Really hurt.   I had been there before.  You just have to keep going…they were leaving their house for the last time. For the last time.  Where they grew up.  For the last time.  Leave.  You just have to keep going….


I could be all wrong about how the boys really felt when they drove away with me, because I am 3 times their age. 


But when they are my age, I won’t be wrong. 


P.S.   All across America, there is this wincing pain of separation from our childhood homes and community.   It is easy to move away -  and difficult to stay where you grew up.   Our hyper-mobility  is stripping NEO of the next generation. We see it in the empty houses, and we will see it in the drop in the next census - just as we have for the last forty years. 


Whether you are in an area which has an exodus or and influx, there is still the question: what is this transience doing to us emotionally and culturally?   I removed the old dog house out of the Penske on the way by my house.   Too ignominious to just throw it in the dumpster.   And at least I’ll get a little heat out of it…

A Green Roof (Woof?) For Fluffy???

Green Roofs for Animal Homes


by Petz Scholtus, Barcelona on 12.18.07


Stephanie Rubin, owner and designer of Sustainable Pet Design, fused her love for animals, her talent for landscape design and an environmental responsibility into Greenerrroof Animal Homes.


At the moment her catalogue features dog houses and bird homes with green roofs. All dog dens are custom-made according to the size of the dog and the local plant types available for the roof. The cedar wood used is FSC-certified and treated with zero-VOC paint and beeswax for waterproofing. The green roof of each home consists of plants native to where you (and your dog) live. The advantages of green roofs for pets are numerous; they are naturally nice smelling and looking, insulate, attract butterflies and repel fleas. You could even use the naturally filtered runoff water as drinking water for your dog.


Shelters come in various colours and models to choose from; from the Heartbox with a heart-shaped entrance to an impressive Cathedral and a eccentric-looking Leafbox. Now you just have to decide whether you want to spend between $1000 and $6000 on a dog house, (or $300 on a bird house!) and whether your dog is more the romantic or quirky type. It is definitely the greenest, maybe a little over-designed dog home we’ve come across so far... More eco tips for four-legged companions in our How To Green Your Pet Guide. Via: Pets Trends ::Sustainable Pet Design



Poignant PreservNation

  Jeff--'Tis the season for poignant memories shared between the generations. Your story hurts, because it is so true for all of us.  We shred the past and we have no fidelity to community any more.

With that unhappy thought, perhaps the Cleveland Restoration Society and National Trust for Historic Preservation will turn the tide in 2008 for structures that symbolize our collective memories--whether as grand as a skyscraper, vernacular as a Victorian house in a historic district, or as humble as a doghouse.